Novena de Aguinaldos
In our family Novena de Aguinaldos, or “Ninth to Baby Jesus,” is the best part of the year to be together. It is a tradition in Colombia, and each family experiences this holiday with a lot of happiness. This is a celebration about the nine months of the pregnancy of the Virgin Mary. We pray for nine days from December 16th to December 24th, in honor of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. In the days before December 16th, we meet as a family and build the nativity and make musical instruments by hand, such as tambourines, maracas, and drums. That day is so exciting. The children look very happy, and the family joyfully begins the Christmas celebration. The novena has specific prayers for each day.
Each night we meet in different homes. We pray the novena around the nativity scene, and the best part is when everyone sings villancicos (Christmas carols), and we play our musical instruments. We tell the small children the little Jesus brings them gifts on Christmas Eve at midnight. After that we serve typical delicious Christmas dishes such as buñuelos (a fried dough), natilla (a dessert custard), and empanadas (fried pastry filled with potatoes and meat). Everywhere the food smells so good and remains in our memories for life. Every night we have a big party. We pray, we sing, we eat, and we dance. Living outside of my country makes these days sad, but I continue the tradition in the place where I live. For me and my family, Christmas without Novena de Aguinaldos and our typical Christmas dishes does not feel like Christmas.